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Though Eric Wood can finally say he’s retired Fozzy Whittaker Jersey , the now-former Buffalo Bills center is unaccustomed to discussing his career in the past tense.
On Monday, for example, Wood was still referring to this spring as ”the offseason,” while attending Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s charitable foundation golf tournament outside of Buffalo.
”It’s so funny. I find myself referring to it as the offseason and we’re making travel plans that aren’t slotted for just the five weeks off in the summer,” Wood said, referring to the break players traditionally get between the final spring practice and the start of training camp.
”It’s different for sure,” he added, while discussing his retirement for the first time since being diagnosed with a career-ending neck injury in January.
”I feel great,” Wood said, noting he’s already dropped about 55 pounds from his 310-pound playing weight.
”The body feels good. Can’t play ball, which stinks. And I miss it,” he added. ”There’s been a lot of times this spring where I’ve seen pictures posted and you think, `Well Cameron Meredith Jersey , that’s my team.’
“But, it’s all good.”
Wood never envisioned his playing days would end so abruptly nine seasons into his NFL career, and after signing a two-year contract extension last summer.
Instead, team doctors ruled he would never be allowed to play again after end-of-season tests revealed Wood had two disks being dangerously close to his spinal cord. Wood received the news while he was in the delivery room with his wife, and about an hour before the birth of his second child, a son.
”It was shocking,” he said, noting his first reaction was to seek a second opinion. ”But ultimately there was no scenario for return to play.”
Wood revealed the severity of the injury during a news conference in January. He was not, however, allowed to say he was officially retiring due to contractual issues that could have prevented Wood from retaining his bonus money until the Bills finally released the 32-year-old on Thursday.
He hasn’t yet laid out any future plans, though Wood will always be a Bills fan after being selected by Buffalo in the first round of the 2009 draft out of Louisville.
Wood is following the team online and in social media. He laughed over the uproar on Twitter amid reports rookie first-round draft pick Josh Allen threw an interception during practice last week.
A respected team leader, one thing Wood will miss is mentoring younger players.
He also expressed concern regarding good friend and former teammate Richie Incognito, who has had a tumultuous offseason. Incognito abruptly retired by posting a note on Twitter before the Bills granted his request to be released to potentially sign with another team weeks later.
Then Chad Kelly Jersey , Incognito spent three days in a Florida mental hospital after he allegedly threw weights and tennis balls at gym employees and another patron and told police officers the government was spying on him two weeks ago.
”He’s going through a tough time right now,” Wood said. ”We’re praying for him, and I know he’ll come out of this a good man.”
On the bright side, Wood has come to terms with how his career ended and the consolation that it happened after a season in which the Bills snapped a 17-year playoff drought. His final game was a 10-3 loss to Jacksonville in an AFC wild-card playoff on Jan. 7.
”Yeah, that playoff berth was very sweet,” Wood said. ”It would’ve been very tough my career ending and not ever making the playoffs up here.”
Three straight one-goal decisions in their first-ever playoff series have the Vegas Golden Knights in position of advancing to the second round.
A number the Golden Knights don’t want to consider is five as they look to eliminate the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Only four NHL teams have squandered 3-0 leads in a best-of-seven playoff series: the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs; the 1975 New York Islanders; the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers — and the Kings, who defeated the San Jose Sharks in the opening round and eventually went on to defeat the New York Rangers for their second Stanley Cup.
That’s why Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb is not ready to call this series over heading into Game 4.
“They’re a confident group, still. They believe in there, for sure,” he said of the Kings. “We can’t deviate from what we need to do.”
Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty is also sticking to the one-game-at-a-time mantra.
“We’ve done it before, but I don’t think we’re looking that far ahead,” he told the Kings’ official website. “Obviously we’ve got to win that series, but we’re not looking at it in that sort of way. We’ve just got to win one game right now.”
Vegas is on the brink of sweeping after scoring three third-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory in Game 3 on Sunday night. Cody Eakin tied the score Randy Bullock Jersey , 1-1, early in the frame before Neal and William Karlsson scored 21 seconds apart with just under six minutes to play.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant credits a veteran core with deep playoff experience to keep the team on an even keel.
“A lot of these guys have been there before,” he said. “Deryk Engelland, James Neal, (Marc-Andre) Fleury, they talk to the players about being composed.”
According to the league’s official website, the Golden Knights are the third team to win their first three playoff games, joining the 1996 Florida Panthers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won four straight in 1970.
Unlike Vegas, the Panthers and Penguins did so in their third seasons. And, again, Gallant’s laid-back demeanor comes through.
“My message all year long … we worry about the next game,” he said. “I don’t worry about what’s happened in the past. “
If Los Angeles is to extend the series Tyron Smith Jersey , it needs contributions from their top players. The Kings have managed three goals in the series — one from center Anze Kopitar (career-high 35 regular-season goals) and none from wingers Dustin Brown (28 goals) and Tyler Toffoli (24).
Toffoli, who’s taken a team-high 14 shots in the series, knows what he must do.
“I had a lot of opportunities in front of the net and around the net, and I’ve just got to get pucks up and be able to find a way to score,” he said. “I’ve had plenty of opportunities to score. I’ve just got to be able to finish.”
In just about any other series, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick would be praised for his 1.69 goals-against average through three games. Fleury, though, has logged an 0.84 GAA.
“It’s going to be hard to finish this series out. Every game’s been really tight. It’s going to be a battle,” McNabb said.
Game 5, if necessary, is scheduled for Thursday night in Las Vegas.
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